The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
What was that Dostoevsky quote about families? “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
I’ve pondered that perhaps too long. People I ask tend to shrug it off. I think he has some idea though: happy families are similar, and this section of Titus seems to be describing them.
The Reason: Paul writes to Titus his job description perhaps as a reminder, perhaps as a letter of commendation to show his authority to those he is going to appoint (or not appoint) as elders, perhaps as a way to be with Titus and help him in this important job. To straighten out what was left undone, and to appoint elders. He goes right into the elders part, and perhaps the rest of the book is about straightening out what was left undone (with elder help?).
Back in the fall when Ravinia first started memorizing Titus, she took this section seriously. “Mommy, am I wild and disobedient?”
She saw herself in the text. She used it as James says to, a mirror and a perfect law that gives freedom. Wow. Praise God, because I hadn’t seen it, nor did I see myself in this text (if anything I was feeling closest to Titus, left behind on an island!). We discussed how much she could be open to the charge of being wild (sometimes, playing with her friends!) and disobedient (this is why we correct her) and her own desire to obey the word has given her motivation.
A funny thing happened. As she consciously lived so as to be one of the children commended in this passage, I began to see my husband. Does he fit this? Did my perspective on him align with truth? As she has lived so as to be an elder’s daughter I have seen that he is like this elder description.
There’s much more to describe the elder than “not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient!”
Blameless (Wow, is that an umbrella word, the heading or category for what follows?)
Husband of but one wife (faithful to her, singularity of commitment, and I see the happy families are all alike here, because the wife who is one with her husband supports him in all that follows)
Children believe (there you go, and the sign that they believe is their tame (loving) obedience)
Then again we come at it another way: Since he is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless:
Not given to drunkenness
Not pursuing dishonest gain
Loving what is good
Except for the hospitable part (which many can concur) who but a wife is in the position to evaluate her husband? And who but a wife, affirming him in these areas, can so greatly rejoice and support?
Just a short word here. Because the passage so obviously expects a male leadership I don’t see it appropriate to add in possible female readings (the wife of but one husband, etc.). That happy families are all alike is still resonating with me: the wife loves her husband, respects him, and works with him in the work and life together. She can see herself in the text since the whole family is involved (hospitality, not abused by a father/husband with the above negative qualities but blessed by his positive ones).
So coming full circle, my eyes seeing how my husband does fit this picture, in December we dreamed a big dream and now in January my husband is an elder. In fact, this Sunday he will preach! (I’m excited and also I’ll ask you to pray for him.)
To God be the glory, all thanks and praise.